The Distortion of Reality: Social Media and DAOs


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 22, 2023

3 min read


The Distortion of Reality: Social Media and DAOs

In this article, we will explore two seemingly unrelated topics: the problem with social media and the concept of DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). While these topics may appear distinct, they share a common thread - the distortion of reality. By examining the impact of social media on our perceptions of the public sphere and the inherent tendency of democratic organizations to evolve into oligarchies, we can gain valuable insights into the challenges we face in the digital age.

Social media platforms have revolutionized the way we interact and consume information. However, the problem lies not in the content itself but in the distorted representation of reality that it creates. These platforms have algorithms designed to target users with personalized content, leading to the creation of a false mental model of society. Instead of experiencing a true representation of the public sphere, we are trapped in a distorted bubble that reinforces our own views and values. This not only amplifies extreme perspectives but also erodes our collective wisdom as a society.

The machinery of targeted distribution is to blame for this distortion. Social media platforms profile us over time and use these profiles to selectively target us with content that aligns with our preferences. As a result, we are shielded from conflicting views and values, giving us an overinflated impression of the prevalence of our own perspectives. To address this issue, we have two options: either ban profiling and targeting practices altogether or make the targeting process transparent. By making the strings of distribution visible, we can better understand when we are being exposed to a distorted view of the world.

Now, let's shift our focus to DAOs - organizations that aim to bring the benefits of democracy to both ownership and governance. Democracy, in its purest form, is impractical due to coordination and information problems. Direct democracies, where everyone has a say in every decision, are slow and inefficient. Voters have little incentive to educate themselves on the issues, leading to uninformed decision-making. This is where the Iron Law of Oligarchy comes into play. It states that all organizations, even those committed to democratic ideals, will inevitably succumb to rule by an elite few.

The evolution from democracy to oligarchy is a result of small groups being more effective at coordinating and organizing than large ones. This is evident in various forms of governance, such as monarchy, oligarchy, and representative democracy. However, each of these forms has its drawbacks. Monarchy may be efficient, but a bad ruler can lead to poor outcomes. Oligarchy is stable but tends to serve the interests of the elite few rather than the entire population. Democracy, in its direct form, is cumbersome and prone to information problems.

DAOs, as a form of democratic governance, face the same challenges. While they may start as democracies, they are susceptible to evolving into oligarchies over time. Elites within the organization may push for decisions that benefit themselves rather than the collective, leading to a concentration of power. However, it is possible to mitigate this tendency through financial incentives and pre-programmed rules within the DAO. By understanding the historical patterns of governance and the challenges they present, we can strive to create more resilient and inclusive democratic organizations.

In conclusion, both social media and DAOs highlight the inherent challenges we face in maintaining a true representation of reality and fostering democratic ideals. To address the distortion of reality caused by social media, we must make the machinery of targeted distribution visible, enabling individuals to recognize when they are trapped in echo chambers. Similarly, DAOs must navigate the tendency towards oligarchy by implementing mechanisms that promote inclusivity and prevent the concentration of power. By taking these actionable steps, we can build a more informed and democratic future.

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